Burnt Church chief calls for high level talks
The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, February 8, 2001
Violence over native fishing rights could be repeated this spring off New Brunswick, warns the chief of the Burnt Church First Nation.
“The dispute between our Nation and Canada remains at an impasse and the potential for conflict, even violence in the upcoming lobster season would appear, once again, to be imminent,” Wilbur Dedam wrote in a letter to Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal.
Last year’s attempts at mediation with Burnt Church, headed by federally appointed mediator Bob Rae, failed.
At issue is the controversial Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding aboriginal fishing and hunting rights.
The meaning of the Marshall decision on native rights to earn a moderate living through hunting, fishing and gathering, led to a series of violent clashes between natives, non-natives and federal officers.
Chief Dedam wrote that the “gulf that lies between” the federal government and his community on the issue “is great.”
Chief Dedam wants to meet “as soon as possible” with Mr. Rae, Mr. Dhaliwal, Indian Affairs Minister Bob Nault and officials of the Assembly of First Nations.
Mr. Dhaliwal has “consistently said that he will meet with the elected chief and council to discuss fisheries issues,” Heather Bala, spokeswoman for Mr. Dhaliwal’s office, said late yesterday.
The department could provide no other details.